Monday, October 15, 2012

Two Years Later...

Wow - has it really been two years since I've written anything here? Hard to believe. Now I'm trying to think back over the last two years - so much has happened! So much has changed. Greg lost his job. We've moved. Found a new church. Left our new church. Lost Greg's mom, our sweet Moo Moo. The kids have grown. We've grown. God has done amazing things in our lives! Most of them through the mundane, if that makes any sense. He's brought some amazing people into our lives, too. One of them is a missionary friend that I've never met. I follow her blog avidly ( and we've been corresponding through emails. She is an amazing lady and a wonderful mom and her entire life inspires me beyond words. She calls me her Barnabas, her encourager, but she's the one that encourages me! She told me I should start a blog to encourage others, and I remembered "Oh! I have a blog!" You can't really compare my gathering of odd little paragraphs about work and food and kids and whatnot with her amazing blog full of wisdom and insight straight from the Lord. But I had forgotten how cathartic it is to just sit and type things out. Often without thinking, which can be dangerous. So today, October 15, 2012, I'm making a commitment to myself: Self, I'm going to try to do this, on a regular basis. Nothing fancy or terribly important. Just my thoughts and my struggles, on the screen. Transparancy is a good thing, right? And I'm going to encourage my Gregory to do this, too. A huge part of our dating was bonding over his blog about his wife Denise's death. He has an amazing gift for stringing words together in such a way that God just uses them to speak to people's hearts. I'm in awe of that! So now I just have to remember to encourage him to do it and NOT to nag  him. Sometimes that distinction escapes me...

So, now that I've made this "momentous" decision (ha!), what on earth to write about? I could write about this Bible Study book I was reading this morning by Priscilla Shirer called "One in a Million." The idea was to attend a weekly morning Bible Study with a group of women (one of my friends from Life Church mentioned it and I invited myself to go). But, as so often happens, life got in the way. I went to one meeting before the kids got sick and work got crazy and before you know it, I'd missed the next four weeks. But the book is amazing (wow - how many times can i use the word "amazing" in one little blog post? Stay tuned to find out!) and is so exactly where we are right now. She talks about God taking us through the wilderness so that we can see His glory. Experience it for ourselves. Greg had used some of the exact same terminology as Mrs. Shirer the other day - was talking about how he felt like God had led us out into the wilderness and that some days we were going in circles. I started grinning from ear to ear, which annoyed him since he was extremely frustrated at the time! But then I told him about this study and how God was using it to show me that the wilderness doesn't have to be bad. It doesn't have to such a horrible thing, something just to slough through on the way to wherever we think we're going. There can be beauty there, just not the beauty we're used to seeing. God did such miraculous things before the Israelites - the cloud by day and the fire by night, manna, water from the rock. Any one of those would have been (or should be) a life changer! 'Cause in a lot of ways, God has provided "manna" for us - no, not literally in the sense that he had bread fall from the sky, but he has provided supernaturally in ways that I can't even fathom. And He has given us water from the rock - water, life-sustaining fountains of refreshing, streaming from something that's hard and cold and unyielding. I'm probably not expressing this well, but what I'm trying to say is that He hasn't changed - He still does the unexpected in the middle of the desert. He still gives us glorious displays of His power and His love even when - or should it be especially when? - we're stuck in the middle of a dry and thirsty land, with sand blowing every which way and the sun beating down on our heads until we feel we could just crawl under a rock and die. That's when He really gets the chance to show off, so to speak. He send a cloud to show the way out or He sends a note from a friend to give you that bit of encouragement. The signs of His love are everywhere, if we but open our eyes to see them.

See? This is why I'm not a true blogger - that paragraph above is entirely too long. There really should be some structure other than me just rambling! Shouldn't there? But perhaps not. Perhaps this truly is just an extension of my prayer journal. Just an excuse to sit down and let the thoughts fly! Because I find that when I do this, I'm much more likely to talk to the Lord throughout my day. And much more likely to be quiet and listen to Him, which is an even greater feat! Talking's easy - listening's not. So maybe that's the second part of my commitment to myself: that not only will i talk, I'll take time to listen. That i won't just rush through my time and then rush on to the next thing in my day. But that I will settle in and get comfy. That I'll come prepared to hang out and just be there a while. No agenda, no time limits. Just communion. No, wait - that's too official and makes me think of the actions involved in "taking communion". Just communing? That's a little better... I know that I tend to get so caught up in doing the right things (and the wrong things!) and checking off the boxes in my Christian life (go to church? check! read a devotional? check!) that I neglect the whole point: worship of the One True God. Serving Him. Waiting on Him. My heart longs to do that - so why then do I not make it a priority? Why is it the first thing to get pushed aside?

Take for instance a song we've been wanting to learn for the past few weeks. I heard it driving to the office one day: Redeemed, by Big Daddy Weave. Awesome lyrics that wreck me every time I hear it. So I told Greg to listen to it and that we really should learn it so we could do it that next weekend when we did worship at the Counseling Center Saturday night or at Revolution X on Sunday night. We haven't learned it yet. We've sung it - a lot. But we also haven't done worship anywhere. We keep saying we're going to make more of a concerted effort to worship regularly as a family at home. And we've made some progress. But lately that means worshipping to a CD, not taking the time to go downstairs and pull music and get behind the keyboard. Not that worshiping to a CD is wrong! But God has called us and nudged us (me and Gregory) to do more and we've neglected it. Come to think of it, the last few times we have gone down and pulled music with the intent of worshiping as a family, the kids would get a little overexcited dancing around and someone would usually end up whining or getting irritated or getting hit by someone else. The kids usually do fine for the fast songs, but they usually don't "get it" when we switch gears. And they really don't understand when mommy and daddy get frustrated with them for doing the same thing that they were doing just one song before (flailing about and dancing exuberantly and loudly!). Should we get irritated with them? Nope. Do we? Every time. We're human, you know. Totally fallable. And quite prone to irritation, apparently. To borrow a line from "Redeemed", I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet! I'm ever-so-thankful that the good Lord doesn't get so irritated with me as frequently as I do with my babies! I certainly give Him ample cause to, on a regular basis.

Did I have a point to all this? Probably not. And even if I did, I can't recall it right now. I could go back and reread this post... but if I do that, I know I'll delete it without posting it. So I don't believe I will. Read it, that is. I think I'm going to just hit the orange button and send this out into cyberspace. And in a few hours, I may try to do this again because I've enjoyed myself immensely. Will any of this encourage anyone else on the planet? I don't know. But God has spoken to me through all my rambling. And isn't that the point? At least, I think that was my point, way back up at the top. To let God speak to me through this, however He chooses. To open myself up to hear His voice. To be still and listen. Yes, I think so. So thank You, Lord, for being faithful. Thank You that when I'm still and quiet, You talk. You don't leave me hanging! You may not ramble on for paragraphs to get your point across - usually it's just in a few words or impressions. But thank You, nonetheless! Because what You have to say is always worth the stopping to hear it. And no doubt the act of being silent - even for a minute - will hopefully over time develop the habit of doing so. And then maybe one day it won't be so hard to quiet my mind to hear Your still, small voice. Maybe then I'll do a better job at listening. Maybe...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Honesty, Masks, "Better than a Hallelujah"

My amazingly talented husband, Gregory, sang a new Amy Grant song yesterday at church called "Better Than a Hallelujah".  He thought he messed up and massacred the song, but I didn't think so at all!  I know lots of folks (not just me!) were blessed by it, and didn't notice any missed notes or flubbed lines that seemed glaring to him.  The song is beautiful and has beautiful lyrics and has been going through my head since he sang it yesterday.  The whole message of the song (or at least my take on it) is about how God sees and hears the cries of our heart and how they're beautiful to Him.  My favorite line from the song is "Beautiful, the mess we are" - that blows me away!  That God sees me and knows me intimately - knows how messed up I am! - and yet finds me beautiful. 

How often am I honest with God and with other people?  I mean, really?  You know how sometimes when people ask how we are, instead of being transparent and telling them, "I'm having a horrid day and am ready to strangle my spouse and/or my coworkers!", we say "I'm blessed and highly favored!" or we just say "I'm fine! How're you?"  Do we try to do that with God, too?  It's kind of an icky question because I believe in giving the sacrifice of praise - praising God in the midst of everything that's going on, even when it sucks.  Even when praising Him is the last thing you want to do!  When the bottom's fallen out and you're sinking, going under for seemingly the last time.  Those times when I press in and praise Him regardless are the times when He wrecks me and holds me the closest and let's me hear His heartbeat all the more clearly.  And that's all good!  But I guess what I was musing about today was how sometimes we're afraid to be real with each other.  How we put on these masks and show our shiny happy side.  How we're ashamed or afraid to let anyone know that we're hurting.  That we're human. 

But God knows all.  He hears the honest cries and moans and groans of our heart and they are sweet in His ears.  And they're sweet in the ears of our fellow laborers, too.  Our brothers and sisters who are toiling beside us as we try to walk out our faith are going through their own struggles and trials, but they're not too busy to lend a helping hand.  Or at least they shouldn't be.  And often when we're brutally honest with someone, it forges a stronger bond.  Those shared revelations can really cement a relationship because when you're real with them, it invites them to let their own mask drop and be real with you, too. 

I have several friends that I can be totally real with.  They've seen me at my worst and yet are still speaking to me.  They've seen me bawling and crying over minor things that I should've handled with ease.  They've heard me whine and complain when honestly I had nothing to whine or complain about.  And they love me, even so!  Would they still love me if I hadn't been so honest with them?  Probably, but the friendship is deeper and richer in my opinion because of it.  Because usually, if we're real with someone, it lets them know that they can be real right back.  It lets them know that we trust them enough to share the deep places of our soul.  Obviously, though, you should use a little discernment and not just open up and lay your soul bare for just anyone.  I"m not saying to be honest and transparent with the stranger in line at Food Lion, necessarily.  But you have to be the judge of that, I suppose!

It seems to me that wearing a mask all the time physically would get dreadfully tiring, and would make your head kind of stuffy (especially the heavy kind with lots of feathers).  Plus it would affect your peripheral vision, make it hard to see clearly.  I'm sure the same things hold true for emotional/spiritual masks as well.  I think it's only when we take the mask off and let others see our real face - warts and all - that we can truly breathe freely and see the world around us. 

So, have you heard the song?  How did it speak to you?

Ahhh...  Starbuck's doubleshot energy + coffee drinks.  In particular, vanilla flavored.  Awesome, awesome.  Tons 'o caffeine.  They're my new best friend.  Well, at least this morning.  Today is Monday.  Which means I am in Atlanta.  Which means I should have gotten a decent amount of sleep last night to make the drive to Atlanta a fairly safe one.  But alas, that was not to be.  I had the bright idea to spend the night at my folks house with the kids like we did last week to make my drip to Atlanta shorter and to spend some unhurried time with my folks.  Plus since Greg wasn't feeling good at all this weekend (throwing up and stomach cramps - please pray for him!) and since his mom (who surprised us by arriving a day early for her visit on Friday) wasn't feeling well either, I thought it made sense on so many levels.  This way, the kids would already be at mom & dad's so there would be no figuring out transportation or anything like that to get them there today.  And it worked really well last week when we tried it, so I thought, why not?  Why not, indeed.  Oh, let me count the reasons... 

First of all, last week I arrived at their house exhausted and just in time for bed.  The kids had gone down earlier and had spent the afternoon swimming and playing and so were exhausted, too.  We had our monthly Awakening Service at church, so I'd been to that and was still in the clouds after an amazing time of worship.  So getting Noah and thus me to sleep was a piece of cake.  I don't think either of us even moved during the night!  Yesterday, however, we had all 3 gone down together and had a wonderful afternoon, visiting friends and swimming and laughing and playing.  I was hoping that Noah would opt to sleep with Nana and PawPaw, but nope.  He chose mommy.  Which was fine, except I was thinking that I'd actually have the bed to myself for once (since Noah is a bed hog and gets that totally from his daddy).  So we start to bed at 9:00.  Finally get serious about it around 9:30, after lots of giggling and talking and a really long prayer time, which was very cool.  Noah basically wanted to pray for everyone at church individually and his memory was quite good!  So once we finished all that, I'm thinking we're good to go.  But nope.  He couldn't get comfortable, he was thirsty, he had to go potty, he needed to swap pillows...  ordinarily at home, I'm a lot more no nonsense and tough on him at bedtime (and it helps that Greg's there to help keep him in line) but since Anna was asleep in the next room (sans sound machine) and since sound carries well in their house, I was really worried about waking her up.  So instead of my usual tactics (which probably would have resulted in a spanking fairly early on), I tried to just stay calm and keep telling him to go to sleep.  (Yes, yes, I know that this was not being consistent with him, which is a problem in and of itself.  I'm not very good at this mommy business, so that's not surprising.  But as I said, I knew that if Anna woke up, I was totally sunk, so chose to go this route...)

My calmness lasted until about 10:35.  I tried to hide the fact that I was getting totally furious until about 10:45.  I don't remember what the final straw was, but it was probably either a kick accompanied by a whine or maybe it was a request for more juice or to go back to the potty.  Whatever it was, I jumped out of bed and turned on the lamp so quickly that I knocked it over, scaring Noah and calming me down somewhat.  But I was still pretty fired up and trying really hard not to yell and not to cuss and not to just generally make things a whole lot worse.  So I paced to the door and back a few times and whispered quite harshly to him about how it was long past time to be asleep, and how mommy had to get up really early, etc., etc.  As you can imagine, this had no effect, other than to cause crying and more whining about how he wasn't sleepy, blah, blah.  I texted back and forth with Greg 'cause I knew I needed serious backup and finally called him.  He calmed me down and prayed with me, which helped immensely.  So we settle back in, both of us calmer and after I apologized for "talking ugly" to him and getting his forgiveness (and him with a sippy cup with more juice, which Greg thought might help get him to sleep quicker).  Greg was right - by 11:30, he was asleep and so I drifted off as well. 

Fast forward to 2:00...  I'm dreaming about sleeping in a puddle of water.  No, wait.  I'm awake and am in fact sleeping in a puddle of water.  ARGH!  Noah hasn't wet the bed in ages and although he usually sleeps in a diaper, just in case, it's been dry in the morning for quite some time now.  Of course, none of that factors in extra juice in the middle of the night!  He's soaked, I'm soaked, the bed is soaked.  Sigh.  I get all of that cleaned up and finally get back to sleep, waking up every 10 or 15 minutes until about 3:30.  So when my alarm went off at 4, I about jumped out of my skin!  I was so tempted to hit snooze, but I know better.  I had to kick my snooze habit long ago because I abuse it badly.  So I stumble to the shower, after waking my dad and passing Noah over to his care (didn't want him to wake up by himself in "strange" surroundings).

So there you go - the sad saga of my sorry Sunday night's sleep.  Don't know why I felt the need to go into such detail, but hey!  Sometimes you just need to get things off your chest, know what I mean?  Maybe my next post will be more... I don't know, intellectually or spiritually stimulating, shall we say?  Or maybe it'll be something totally inane and idiotic and equally as detail-oriented as this one.  Feel free to NOT read these, by the way!  I know there are many more uplifting and encouraging blogs.  But since this one belongs to me, it's definitely going to have it's more mundane moments.   Variety is the spice of life, right?  And since I have the aforementioned Starbucks Doubleshot energy + coffee coursing through my veins this morning, inane and mundane chatter is definitely more my speed right now.  I almost feel sorry for my co-workers who have to actually hear me today.  You, dear reader, can simply close this window or surf to another blog.  They, however, are going to have to be in the same office space with me and have to hear my pointless musings at a fairly rapid pace.  I started to feel a twinge of remorse in advance for subjecting them to this, but thankfully, the feeling passed! 

Ah, Mondays!  Gotta love 'em. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Conversation with a Changed Man

I just had the most awesome talk with one of the guys at work who just returned from a mission trip to Guatemala with his 13 year old son.  God totally rocked his world last week and it was so cool to hear him share just a few of the things he saw and experienced and learned while serving the Guatemalan people.  He was already a really strong believer - a leader in so many ways, both in his church and in the business world.  But life has changed for him. 

He spoke about our need to surrender.  Every day, every moment.  Surrender everything.  What a difference that would make in our daily life if we could just do that!  It sounds simple, but isn't it one of the hardest acts a human can contemplate?  To willingly relinquish control of anything is difficult.  But to give over and yield your very being?  Wow.  Even when I think I'm doing that in regard to something, in reality I'm not.  Like when I think I surrender my worry about finances.  I think I give it to God and lay it at the foot of the cross... only to turn around and pick it up 2 seconds later so I can fret about it even more.  Or when I pray about something, but instead of relying on God and trusting Him to reveal His plan in His time, I decide to help Him out.  "You know what, God?  I've got this. Don't worry about that prayer I just said - scratch all that.  I can handle this on my own.  No need to bug You with it!"  What I really mean is that I don't trust Him.  I don't put my faith in Him to get me through.  I don't want to surrender anything to His control.  I want to keep it clutched in my grubbly little fist.  Surrender.  The word has such bad connotations!  A defeated enemy.  A blood-stained battleground.  How do we reconcile that to the beautiful picture that God intended?  To just putting all our problems and cares into His ever-so-capable hands, like a child giving his dad a broken toy, knowing that all will soon be made right.  Surrender.  So much to think about, caught up in that one word. 

He also talked about joy.  When did we lose our joy and become anxious beings?  When did things like money and security take over our thought life?  Like he said, it's a gradual process.  You never even realize that your thoughts are turning more and more toward the mundane and less and less toward the sacred.  When did I cease to find joy in the simple things?  When did I cease to be joyful and grateful to my Creator and to express that joy and gratitude to Him on a regular basis?  How did I let that happen?  I've heard that there's a difference between happiness and joy.  One is based on our circumstances; the other, based on something inside us.  Something that isn't affected by our situation at all.  Shouldn't our joy spring from the knowledge that our God is sovreign and is in control of the universe?  Shouldn't it come from an unwavering reliance on Him in each and every moment of our life?  When did I lose my joy?  When did I let it become tainted by everyday nuisances?  When did I start to focus more on the trivialities and inconsequential things in my life and less on communing with my Lord and Savior?  Joy.  So much to think about in that one word, too.

Greg talks a lot about worship.  About worshipping in spite of what's going on in life.  In spite of the problems, the nuisances of daily life.  Isn't one aspect of worship being totally surrendered to God?  Could surrender be considered the ultimate act of worship?  And couldn't joy be considered a byproduct of that act?  We surrender our hearts and our souls and our minds to God, yielding to His control, thus accepting the peace of His joy in our life.  Unfathomable joy.  Like His peace that passes understanding, His joy likewise is totally beyond comprehension.  Wow. 

Lord, I acknowledge you as Creator of the Universe and acknowledge my smallness in relation to You.  Who am I that You are mindful of me?  Who am I that You died for me?  I give You this moment of worship and praise.  Give You the adoration that is due You and You alone.  Thank You for what you did last week in Guatemala.  Thank You for what you did in my friend's heart.  And thank You for letting me hear about a portion of it.  I wasn't on the mission field last week with K and his son. I didn't stay in a squallid little hut or pray with people as they heard about Christ for the first time and accepted Him as their Savior.  But my life has been touched by his experiences.  My outlook has been changed now; my perspective, realigned.  All from one ten minute conversation with a co-worker. 

So now I know what I need to do today... surrender it all.  Easy?  No.  Scary?  Yes.  Necessary?  Absolutely.  Will I succeed in surrendering my Monday to God?  Maybe; maybe not.  But I will succeed in surrendering this moment to Him.  And this one, and the next.  And at the end of the day, my prayer is that there will have been more moments surrendered than not.  More moments spent resting in His joy than not.  More moments focusing on Him.  For that's really what it's all about, isn't it?  Our focus in life.  So, Lord, change my focus today.  Show me the things that I'm clinging to too tightly.  Help me to realize what I'm clutching in my grubby little fist.  Help me to let everything go and to rest in the joy of surrendering to You. In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Can I climb up in your lap?

Seems like it's been forever since I've blogged!  But today, the boys are still napping and Anna is happily occupied, alternately between dancing around the room singing and sitting at my feet, playing with random toys.  This morning at church, Kenny sang a song by MercyMe called "Keep Singing".  If you're not familiar with it, it's a short little song about how during the midst of all our pain and suffering, when we wonder how we'll ever make it through, we've got to (yep, you guessed it!) keep singing.  There's a part in the middle that talks about climbing up in God's lap:  "Can I climb up in Your lap?  Hold me, Lord; rock me, Lord... I don't want to leave."  Kenny talked about how anyone who's ever been a parent knows how it touches your heart to have your kids climb up in your lap for a cuddle.  Well, that got me to thinking...  and to crying...  because that morning I'd been so busy trying to get the kids ready and out the door for church (still didn't make it on time!) and busy fighting with Noah aobut silly things, that when Anna Grace came over and wanted me to pick her up, I was irritated.  Yes, irritated.  It makes me feel guilty all over again as I'm typing that!  I didn't want to slow down and take the few minutes to see what she wanted or needed or even just to savor the experience of holding my daughter close for a second or two during the hustle and bustle.  I should be relishing those precious moments and not taking them for granted.  What does it matter if Noah wants to wear his batman pajamas?  I mean, does it really matter, in the grand scheme of things? 

So as I'm typing this, here comes Anna Grace, wanting up in my lap again...  think I'm going to even hesitate to cut this short and cuddle with my precious daughter!  Nope!  :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Simplify? Unplug? Disconnect?

Greg spent some time during the last week out in Mississippi.  His trip had several purposes and several outcomes as well.  One of the purposes was helping his mom do some projects around the house (which went well - no arguing, thank the Lord!).  But he also got to spend a lot of time with our friends the Brandons on their farm.  Talk about a breath of fresh air, both physically and spiritually!  His time with them has seemed to energize him on so many levels.  He has returned home determined to make some changes - some much needed changes - in the way we do things as a family.  I'm excited about the changes and about the conversations we've had since he's returned.  Lots of talking about simplifying our life, focusing on what truly matters and letting the rest go.  Such a concept!  So... well, so SIMPLE.  And yet the execution of it can be so terrifyingly hard.  We rely so much on technology, mostly on our computers and on being "connected".  A good thing in many ways, but how much connection is too much? 

Most of the time I am all for getting rid of the satellite or cable or whatever.  Let's face it:  we watch basically one show a week - The Biggest Loser on Tuesday nights.  The rest of the time, if the TV's on at all, it's on kid's shows that we have recorded.  Since I've ben on my diet, we haven't even watched Food Network.  We tell ourselves, though, that we NEED the TV.  We tell ourselves that we're going to start watching conferences on God TV, or tuning into the Prayer Room's Live Feed on there.  We tell ourselves that we need it in case there is bad weather, or a national crisis of some sort, or in case we want to watch football during the fall, or .....  whatever.  But all of that we can get on our computers, so why keep the TV?  A sense of security?  Who knows.  

And you know, even the kid's shows that we watch have gotten worse.  At first we thought we were being so careful about what Noah watched.  But even being careful, does he really need to watch those things?  We've told my parents, "Just because it's a cartoon does NOT mean it's acceptable!" and have tried to make sure that what he sees there is in line with what we want.  But you never know these days.  We saw a commercial for a Showtime series about lesbians on the the Food Network - yet another reason not to watch that channel any more!  For a while, we kept him on the Disney channel shows - and then, only in the mornings when it was for littler kids.  But then he went through his Star Wars phase, so we recorded some of the new Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network.  We quickly realized the difference:  Disney doesn't have commericals, while CN has a gazillion commercials during the one half hour show.  So then of course he was asking to watch other shows or wanting to go buy the toys advertised.  He still only does a handful of shows, though (Imagination Movers and Backyardigans mostly, but the occasional Max & Ruby or Clone Wars or Wiggles, too).  But when he actually knows the individual episodes of the shows by name when we call them out from the DVR list, how can that be a good thing? 

And what about the video games?  We knew we didn't want Noah to follow our bad habits but of course he is to a large degree.  We both love video games, so now Noah does to.  We tell ourselves that at least he's interacting, and at least some of the Wii games are physically active, but we're just rationalizing, aren't we?  We console ourselves with the fact that he still loves to play outside and prefers that to all other activities... for now.  But how long before our "couch potato" tendencies kill that as well?  So we're trying to make conscious efforts to turn off the video games and the TV and to be outside a lot more, whether it's playing, working in the yard, or just being outside.  But it is very hard, especially for me.  Because a lot of the time when I'm on the computer, I'm working.  The same with Greg, too.  So it makes life a lot easier for me if Noah is playing one of his video games because then I can work and still talk to him and interact with him and Anna.  And I feel hypocritical telling him that he needs to turn off the game when I'm still sitting behind the computer screen.  Mainly because he doesn't know the difference between "Mommy working" and "Mommy playing on facebook" - it all looks the same from the other side of the laptop.

But I have totally digressed...  one of the things Greg mentioned when he got back from Mississippi was that he hated our bedroom.  At first, I was a little offended!  I had worked really really hard while he was gone, putting away the stacks of clean clothes that I seem to accumulate on any flat surface, cleaning off all the clutter we had piled in there, taking the bins of winter clothes and the box of books that sat in the corner for the entire two years we've lived here out of the room and out to the back porch so that they can go to the barn.  I had tried really hard to make our bedroom more of a sanctuary and a relaxing place and not just a junk room that happened to house our bed.  So his comment really irked me at first!  Until he finished the thought... "I hate our bedroom because there are no windows in there!"  At first we thought that was a good thing.  After all, it's much easier to take a nap when the room is dark. But he had been used to waking up much earlier on the farm, with all the beautiful early morning sunshine streaming into the room and with the crowing of the roosters!  So he's been trying to get up early and go outside to spend some time with the Lord before he starts his day.  Those of you who know him, know that this is a HUGE change from our normal routine.  Before last week, he would usually sleep in (usually because he didn't sleep well the night before) and then once he got up, he would have to have at least an hour to slooooowly wake up, get a shower, drink some caffeine, check his emails, check out  after his hour, then and only then could I start talking to him and asking questions (because I'm a morning person and hit the ground asking questions and talking a mile a minute!).  So I'm really excited about this change.  I'll still give him his hour to wake up, but it's made easier knowing that he's talking to the Father, know what I mean?

So just a few days on the farm reset his thinking in a sense.  Made him want to simplify our lives.  He's wanting to take us all out to Mississippi for a vacation - I can't wait!!  Let's go NOW!  I want to recharge my spirit like Greg has.  I want to relax in the early morning sunlight on the porch with nothing more pressing than whether or not to take a walk down by the pond before breakfast.  As an aside to all this, we've also been looking at moving somewhere cheaper than our current house.  We're trying to find something that would make it easier to make ends meet and - novel concept! - enable us to actually save some money or perhaps even bless others for a change.  At first, we were looking closer to Lafayette, since that would be closer to my folks and closer to free babysitting.  But now we're just looking.  So we're sitting at dinner last night and talking about some rental houses Greg saw advertised, when he throws out, "Eunice's house is for rent..."  OK, I'll bite:  "Who's Eunice?"  Turns out, that's a little house that's next to the farm.  In Mississippi.  Not exactly a workable commute!  Or is it?  How much money could we save?  How much would our lifestyle change automatically, just by living close to the farm?  Greg said that if we lived out there, I wouldn't have to work.  I don't know if that's true or not, but the idea was oh so appealing!  But you know, really, it doesn't matter where we live - I work via email and across the internet connection with an occasional fedex package delivered to my door.  That can happen anywhere - Mississippi or an island in the Pacific or a snow covered igloo in the arctic tundra (well, anywhere that has an internet connection anyway). 

But before any of our friends from Hope start freaking out, thinking we're relocating to Pontotoc, rest assured.  As tempting as the idea may be, we both know that God put us at Hope Fellowship and that's where we'll be until He sends us somewhere else.  And though the idea is tempting, it's not the ideal solution either.  So the question becomes, can we incorporate the ideals and lifestyle and ways of living on a farm here in our house in Chickamauga?  Absolutely!  Well, maybe not all of them.  I don't foresee us getting goats and chickens in the near future - don't think our landlady would approve!  But living a simpler, less plugged in life?  Paring out some of the bad habits we've allowed to creep in?  Focusing on the things that should be a priority?  Living outside more?  Turning off the technology for a while and doing more with the kids?  How simple.  And how totally radical. 

I'll let you know how our journey to simplify our life goes.  It won't be easy at times.  Like right now... we had planned to take the kids to daycare so we could get some errands run and get the house in order, etc.  But Noah doesn't want to go.  He's playing his video game and crying and saying he wants to stay with us.  But the reality is that he doesn't want to stop playing his game...  so while I've been blogging about all this, I should have been outside with my son.  *Sigh*  Some lessons are going to take a while to learn, I suppose. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's finally Friday

For some reason, this has been an extremely tough week for me.  Don't really know why, and to be honest, not really sure what exactly I'm meaning by "extremely tough".  I just know that I feel tired.  Not just physically tired, but mentally and emotionally, too.  Again, I'm not sure why.  I mean, I'm sleeping at night and all that, but I have been waking up around 4:00 and just laying here for a while, worrying.  How silly is that??  And not just worrying about any one thing.  Oh no - I'm worrying about anything and everything.  Things in the past, things in the future that I have no control over... worrying about my kids, worrying about my marriage, worrying about my job, worrying about the price of tea in China.  You name it, I've probably worried about it recently.  It's really weird, but my spirit feels heavier this week somehow, which has probably caused all the worrying.  You would think that after coming off of a week to celebrate Christ's sacrifice and His resurrection, that my spirit would be soaring!  But I just feel weighted down, you know?  *sigh* 

OK, enough of the depressing stuff.  I know what Greg would say, "Well, just get over it and stop letting the enemy steal your joy!"  I know he's right; I'm just not as good at actually doing that sometimes.  No excuse, but there you go.  So let's talk about something cheerful, shall we?  Let's see...  it is in fact Friday.  Hallelujah!  I'm quite thankful for that, mainly because I'm hoping that with the end of this week, my malaise will lift and I'll be in my normal regular everyday run-of-the-mill mood again (which is generally a happy one). Hmmm... what else is going on?  Greg's mom (aka Moo) is visiting us this week, so again, you'd think I would have been in a wonderful mood all week.  She is a big help and the kids always enjoy her being here.  She and Grg took Noah fishing on Wednesday and he had a blast.  Then yesterday since it rained and since I had a ton of work to do, they played in the garage all day:  had a picnic, sang songs, filled bird feeders.  Noah even napped with her on the couch yesterday, which is HUGE for us.  Anna Grace is still being very clingy and fussy.  I think she's feeling better, but she's been in a bad mood this week, too.  She has her mama's temper, which is NOT a good thing.  She's napping now, though, and I'm supposed to be working and taking advantage of the break.  But I'm not - I'm typing on here.  For no apparent reason and really with no purpose.  Just rambling...  but sometimes rambling feels good.

The house isn't quiet today - Noah has the Backyardigans playing in the living room, and Moo & Greg are discussing horses and tractors and thorny bushes.  Yesterday was too quiet with Moo & Noah in the garage, and Anna at the daycare.  She enjoys getting all the attention from the ladies there and from the older kids.  Now, Noah is playing the guitar and just announced to the room in general, "I need a toothpick so I can play my guitar."  I think he's been upset for the last little bit because Greg told him he couldn't go play the "loud drums" (that's what he call the non-electronic ones that we have set up in the garage right now) since Anna's sleeping.  Now he's arguing with Greg about looking for his ornament guitar... Greg had absolutely no idea what he was talking about (a little red guitar-shaped Christmas ornament, obviously!).  Noah went outside to look for it on the back porch and apparently let a bug in the house when he came back in, which resulted in a brief discussion of bugs.  Oddly enough, this was broken up by the arrival of the bug man (an exterminator, and not some giant monster).

We're doing an old hymn this Sunday at Hope:  "Be Thou My Vision".  I'm looking forward to it.  Some of those old hymns have the most amazing words - but often we just fly right through them and don't even hear what we're singing.  "...Thou my best thought / by day or by night / waking or sleeping / Thy presence my light."  (I should remember that in the morning at 4:00 - it's hard to worry when you're communing with the Lord.)  "...Thou my great Father / I Thy true son / Thou in me dwelling / and I with Thee one."  Lord, I pray that You make these words more real to me today.  Help them not to be just empty phrases, but help me to really take hold of the truths behind them.  Forgive me for giving in to anxiety and irritability and general foolishness.  Thank You for the blessings of the week, especially those that I was too caught up in myself to notice.  Thank You that You never leave us or forsake us, that You're always here with me, even when I'm wallowing in self pity!  Thank You that not only is each day new, but each moment is, too, and I can choose to take my thoughts captive and to, in fact, do as Greg suggested - to get over it and reclaim the joy that comes from You. 

Thanks, dear reader, for putting up with my bad mood today.  Hopefully I'll have a "part 2" that's a little more lively later, but for now duty calls.  Greg just came in to tell me that he's not feeling good and is going to lay down.  Noah's begging to go to Chuck E. Cheese's now (egads!) and it's about time for little girl to get up from her nap.  Happy Friday y'all!  :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Long Time, No Post...

Goodness, it's been quite a few days since my last post!  How'd that happen?  I suppose life got in the way, as usual!  :)  Don't get me wrong - there were definitely a couple of things at least that I thought, "Hey!  I should do a blog about that!" but just never put action behind the thought.  Like the day I put new sandals on Anna with no socks and she rubbed blisters on both feet that bled like crazy?  She never cried about it or anything - was too enamored with her first experience with a banana freezer pop, I suppose.  But needless to say, I was totally consumed with guilt over her poor little feet!  Or the day that Noah used the phrase "Heck no!" at supper?  Or the day that we all went to the park and totally enjoyed the amazingly beautiful weather?  Yep, that was the day that Noah turned to me and said, "Mommy, does this park have grass?"  [the playground area is "fenced" in with landscape timbers and filled with wood chippings]  I said, "Sure it does, right over there!"  To which he replied, "Great 'cause I gotta pee!" and proceeded to run over there, pulling down his britches...  Thankfully, Greg was quicker than Noah and scooped him up before we could get fined for public exposure or something and carried him to the bathroom.  I had been telling Gregory for months that letting Noah "water the grass" at our house would come back to bite him in the behind one day!

And there were serious blogs to write, too.  Blogs about how sad we were that some dear friends of ours have decided to move on and won't be at Hope Fellowship with us anymore.  That caused a rough few days, let me tell you!  The Sullivan household was a sad place, until we got our arms around the fact that God was truly leading them into bigger and better things and that we really have to let them go to follow where He's leading.  But it still hurt!  Other blogs that didn't get written were about my struggles with Medifast.  Not very many (I'm still on plan, amazingly!  Thank You, Lord!) but they're there, nonetheless.  My struggles over having lots of moodiness and irritability with my husband (which he attributes to the soy in the medifast products).  He hasn't asked me to stop the diet (well, he did threaten to hide my supplies one day!) but I have been thinking about it and praying about it.  I just hate to stop when I'm having success, and am hoping that now that I realize I'm more irritable and moody than normal, that I can combat it and it won't be as much of an issue.  Hopefully.

So now, I'm up to date.  Kind of.  And of course have totally forgotten what the actual purpose of this blog was going to be!  Figures...

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Sweet Husband and His First Love

My sweet husband posted the nicest post on his blog in honor of our four year anniversary yesterday.  (Check it out here.)  He's such a huge romantic at heart!  He tries to come across as a gruff bear sometimes (and does in fact succeed at that at times!) but in reality, he's just a big cuddly teddy bear.

I love the fact that he's not ashamed to talk openly about his feelings and that he's not ashamed to cry.  When he tears up, it always wrecks me.  Especially when he's singing and worshipping.  He'll get quiet and I'll glance over to see him communing with the Father and it totally wrecks me every time.  It reminds me why I love him so much.  Why we're still together - even with all our rocky times and ups and downs (it's been a wild four years, let me tell you!).  We're together because I'm not his first love.  His first love redeemed him from the pit about 18 years ago and turned his life around.  His first love didn't care about his past, but saw the promise and the potential in him that I see.  His first love is still the One he turns to when things get hard... and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Because his first love is my first love, too - my beloved Jesus.  He's definitely the glue that holds us together.  Without Him, who knows where either of us would be.

It's hard to believe that it's only been four years ago that we said "I do".  Sometimes it seems like we've known each other forever - we are soul mates and I firmly believe that God intended for us to be husband and wife - that He foreordained our union from before the foundations of the world.  All the stuff that we went through to get to March 11, 2006, was preparation for our lives today.  All the yuckiness of my first marriage. All the pain of Greg's first wife's fight with cancer.  All those things made us who we are.  Made us appreciate what we have together.  One would hope that we would appreciate it enough so that we wouldn't fight...  not the case yet, but we are pressing on toward that goal!  And I have to say that our fights are fewer and farther between than they used to be.  (Thank You, Lord, for that!)  But I suppose that's what happens when you have two very passionate individuals, trying to learn to live together and trying to learn to be parents at the ripe old ages we are.  It's a good thing that God's grace is sufficient - we need large daily doses of it to see us through.  

So sitting here, four years later, do I have any insights or flashes of wisdom about where God's going to take us in the next four years?  Nope, not at all.  But I do know this:  that I love my husband more today than I did at the beginning.    That I'm more committed to him than I would have thought possible, that I want to be by his side no matter what comes our way, and that we're in this 'til death do us part.  No, Gregory's not my first love.  But I'll bet if you asked him, he'd have the same response that I did - he wouldn't have it any other way.

A Failed Kitchen Experiment

Well, we've had our first kitchen disaster since starting Medifast.  We've tried lots of new veggies, experimented with different ways of cooking familiar veggies...  but today's attempt to do the Roasted Kale Chips?  A total and complete flop!  My husband's comment:  "These aren't bad, if you're in the burnt grass category."  That about sums it up:  burnt grass.  Yuck!  But I think I know the problem - the recipe I was using called for 35 minutes at 300 degrees.  Unfortunately, I was trying to cook these around lunchtime while feeding my 3 year old and my 1 year old AND in the middle of a huge thunderstorm (complete with large hail) that was freaking both kids out.  So I was a little distracted.  Didn't think to even check the chips until there was less than 8 minutes on my timer, at which point they were already charred to a crisp.  And while I wanted them crispy, this was definitely NOT what I had in mind.  So I'll try again another time - a time when I can keep a closer watch on them!  But it's not a total loss - I only used part of the kale I had bought, so at least I have supplies on hand to try again.  Will keep you posted!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update on my Vision Problems

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to the ophthalmologist to see if I could find out what was going on with my eyes. About a week after I started on Medifast, suddenly my vision was extremely blurry. It was like my glasses had been misplaced with someone else's overnight. I went to the Eye Center at Walmart where the eye doctor did a brief exam and said that my prescription had changed drastically. I told him about the new diet and that I was type 2 diabetic but that my blood sugar numbers had been great since starting the diet. (Prior to starting, I had been sporadic about taking my meds and sporadic about monitoring my numbers...) He said that the blurriness was due to deposits on my eyes shifting due to the fluctuations in my glucose numbers. OK... I thought it was weird that this had never happened before, especially since I had been on an insulin pump during both of my pregnancies and had extremely tight control on my diabetes during those times in my life. So why did my vision not freak out then?

So I get the new glasses and all is well... for a couple of weeks. Suddenly (overnight again!), everything's blurry again! Not as bad as the first time, but bad enough that it freaked me out. I had mentioned this to my primary care doctor when I saw him in February when one of the kids was sick, and he had told me that he would be glad to refer me to an ophthalmologist if it happened again. So off I go yesterday to the thus referred ophthalmologist to get some answers.

The good news: it's not early stages of diabetic retinopathy (which is what I was really worried about!) and it's not an eye infection. My eyes are healthy. He basically said the same thing the other guy did: this was due to my blood sugars changing. When I asked why it hadn't happened before, he basically said that you never know when dealing with blood sugars how they're going to affect things. Hmmmmm... OK..... so is this going to keep happening?? I certainly can't afford to keep getting new glasses (although Walmart does replace the lens for free within 60 days, thank the Lord!) and I certainly don't want to keep having my life turned upside down while I wait for new glasses - I'd been afraid to drive, which left my husband the sole chauffeur for the family. And it just feels weird to walk around and not be able to see things clearly, know what I mean?

So here we are. I'm waiting for the new lens to come in (supposed to be here in 11 days - how silly is that?? so much for expedited service!) and hoping that my eyes are through with their little bouts of fluctuations. On the one hand, I'm happy that my numbers are so great and that my diabetes is under control now that I'm on Medifast! Yippee! But on the other hand, it really is sobering to think about how bad I've been for the past year since my daughter was born. My numbers were never extraordinary high or anything like that - the highest I'd had was probably mid to upper 200's (my husband on the other hand has much higher numbers than I do, but that's the subject of another blog). I had kind of taken a "oh well - everything's fine" attitude about my diabetes (and about my health in general) and was totally in denial.

Until 2010. Suddenly, it was as if a switch had been flipped. Suddenly, I was ready to change my life. No looking back - onward and upward, on to bigger (well, actually smaller!) things. Suddenly, getting healthy is a huge priority for me. Maybe this was just a little reminder that I can't just ignore my health issues and hope they go away. Not anymore. I have to get healthy for my kids. No - scratch that - I have to get healthy for ME. Yes, my children are a huge incentive. They're extremely important and I want to be around to see them grow up! But the bottom line that explains why this time it's almost easy is that I'm doing this for me. Numero Uno. I've finally reached a point in my life where it's like God is saying to me (like He said to the Israelites), "This day I put before you life and death... therefore, choose life." It really is a matter of life and death, you know? I don't mean to be overly dramatic or anything. Shoot, maybe I do! :) But it's like all these verses from the Word are floating around in my mind - about presenting my body a living sacrifice, about my body being a temple of the Holy Spirit. Obviously I haven't been treating my temple very well at all!

[That reminded me of something: A few weeks ago, a friend of ours had an analogy that I thought was awesome about our new lifestyle with Medifast. At the time, my husband was doing it with me and we were at a very informal worship service at the coffeehouse, sharing what all was going on in our lives. A friend named Michael made the comment that we were remodeling our temples, and that remodeling can get messy, especially at first! Wow - there's so much insight in that comparison! So when the going gets tough, I remind myself that sometimes before you can remodel, you have to get out the sledge hammer and do some demolition... makes it easier to "crucify my flesh"! :)]

I feel like I've been rambling overly much in this post, but so be it. I tend to type like I talk, and I ramble lots and lots when I talk. But the bottom line is that I'm in this for the long haul. I can't wait until I can proudly count myself as one of the folks on here that have reached goal and kept it off for years and years. And I will reach my goal. Oh yes! That much I'm certain of - 'cause this time, I'm doing it for the right reasons.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bye Bye Mr. Scale! Plus Hot Cocoa, the Biggest Loser, and My Eyes...

Well, I have made a momentous decision. I'm packing away my scale until next Tuesday. Actually, I'm having my husband pack away my scale - I'd give in long before then, I'm sure! You see, even though my health coach advised against it, I've been a daily weigher from the beginning. And we're not talking about just once a day, either - oh, no! Several times a day. Against all reason! Right after finishing a meal, when I know it's going to be up! I mean, c'mon - what's up with that thinking?? So this morning I decided that I wasn't going to let those little numbers influence my day any more. I saw a thread on the discussion boards about giving up weighing until Easter - I know I'd never make it that long! But I think I can hold off for a week at a time... maybe. We'll see. My husband is pretty ruthless about it (or at least is threatening to be!) so it's pretty much out of my hands. Unless I get truly desparate and sneak to a friend's house to weigh on their scales? No, no, no. The madness stops here and now!

On a totally different note, I had the best hot cocoa with sf raspberry syrup tonight. I tried making the cocoa with just a little water at first to make sure I got all the lumps out (a handy little tip from the boards - thanks to whoever suggested it!) and then added more water & syrup and nuked. Ever so yummy! I think that's my new favorite - especially since we had snow once again here in northwest Georgia today. Not sure what's up with the crazy weather, but it definitely made me want to curl up with a steaming mug of chocolately goodness! Mmmmmmmmm.....

And on another totally different note, is anyone else an avid watcher of the Biggest Loser? This is the first season I've ever watched it but I'm hooked. It's a big deal at our house, mainly because we have to commandeer the TV away from our three year old for the night. But since this is the first reality show I've watched in a while, it amazes me how into it I get!! I mean, I'm rooting for these folks like they're my best friend! And the fact that we're all in this "getting healthy NOW" mode probably contributes a lot to that. I actually yelped and cheered when the black team managed to beat out the blue team tonight, against amazing odds. Noah thought I'd lost my mind! I mean, there was no sword fighting going on, no spaceships, no dancing, no singing, nothing to him that would warrant any such goings on. But he just shook his head and went back to playing. Silly mommy!

My last and totally final different note for the night: I go to the eye doctor tomorrow to see what's causing all this blurred vision. It started right after I started on Medifast, which really freaked me out! I don't think it's related, but it will be a relief to know what's going on.  So say a prayer for me, if you think about it, that the doctor will know what the deal is and have a ready solution!